Elaine Yang is the Founder of askbella, a D2C e-commerce platform designed to take the guesswork out of beauty and skincare purchases.
A believer in the importance of good skincare, Elaine spent years trialing skincare and beauty products that were popular. Once she finally found a good product, she found it even more difficult to match products to create the perfect skincare routine. Growing tired of the research, trial and error, Elaine realised there had to be a better way, prompting her to create askbella. askbella provides users with a skin report that analyses their skin’s qualities, and offers the most appropriate products, step-by-step, to remove the confusion and decision-making fatigue beauty buyers often face.
How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?
There wasn’t a particular turning point, but I believe everything I’ve experienced in my life so far has led me to create askbella. Having worked in the beauty industry with a thorough understanding of the market, I’ve always known the value of good skincare. I tried a whole bunch of different skincare and beauty products to find the perfect fit for my skin, but struggled with researching products and matching them to my skin. Once I did finally find a product that worked, I found it difficult to create a skincare routine without lots of trial and error to get the right mix of products – I felt like I was wasting my money. I decided to do some research into how other women felt, and it turned out that 74% of Australian beauty customers are overwhelmed by too many product choices. So it wasn’t just me! Pairing this with my first-hand knowledge of the beauty market, I knew I had to create askbella.
What makes your business unique?
askbella is the only Australian-owned and made company so far which has integrated AI and beauty to provide real-time product recommendations. Users start by doing a skin quiz, and the askbella Beauty Bot uses AI technology to provide them with a free skin analysis, and product recommendations for a step-by-step skincare routine. askbella only shows products that will benefit the unique skin, making it easier to choose. Customers can then purchase one product, or a whole step-by-step routine based on askbella’s recommendation.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
I hope askbella is the go-to place for beauty shoppers looking for guidance with their next skincare purchase, helping them get it right the first time, saving them time, money and breakouts in the long run.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Freedom, autonomy and creativity. It’s exciting and scary at the same time: nobody but you is responsible for the success or failure of the business.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
Talking to potential customers. I spent so much time talking to askbella’s target market and learning about the pain points they face when making a beauty purchase. While it was time consuming, it was critical to helping me gain valuable, first-hand information to create something that can effectively solve their problems, rather than just another e-commerce store.
How do you personally measure success?
askbella is still an early-stage startup, so right now I’m measuring success by finding the right product-market fit and targeting the right customers. I’m sure my success measures will change as the business grows and develops!
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
It depends on the task that needs to be done, and how your skillset measures up to the task. Founders can’t possibly know it all, and sometimes it’s inefficient to learn a new skill from scratch in an unknown area. With that being said, it’s essential to keep learning the things that only you can do in the team. For me, that meant building my relationships with beauty brands, working on customer experience and growth marketing. At the same time, I partnered with great talent who are specialised in things that would take a while for me to learn, like graphic design. You can’t achieve your goal alone forever; having a great team is very important.
How do you generate new ideas?
I think the best way to generate an idea is not to try thinking of an idea. A better way to go about it is to look at your own experiences and critically look at the problems you have yourself. This will help you see the problems which really exist, and that’s where you’ll find the motivation to solve them.
What keeps you going in difficult times?
The difficulty is not the problem, but the reaction to it is. Seeing every obstacle as a setup for the next success helps me to keep going. We all know there is no such thing as an overnight success, so why don’t we just have fun on the journey?!
Do you have a business app you can’t live without?
Notion! The all-in-one workspace for notes, team wiki, shared doc and project management.
askbella is a D2C beauty e-commerce platform designed to take the guesswork out of beauty and skincare purchases. askbella believes in an ingredient-first approach to beauty, using AI technology to match high-quality products and ingredients to an individual’s unique skin care needs, removing the endless options and decision-making fatigue that Australian beauty shoppers face when purchasing products for their skin.
For more information and to use the askbella Beauty Bot, visit askbella.com.au